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and share your ideas. thank you for listening. >> next, a discussion on presidential disabilities and selections. then a conversation with david westin >> now, a discussion on the constitution ambiguity concerning presidential disabilities and succession. this event took place at fordham university in new york city. it is about 1.5 hours. >> thank-you, i am honored to be asked by you in an incredible place and law school and this subject is natural that i would be asked to be here, interpreting ambiguities in current constitutional arrangements. it would be logical that i would be asked.
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first, because i know absolutely nothing about this subject. i might add that i am in good company. i know nothing about it like everyone else in american media. of course, that is the tragedy. maybe it was that the dean noticed in cleveland ohio that i was in a debate on the subject of the electoral college. maybe as we heard from senator body, -- bayh, no interest was in the media until a was too late. maybe it is because sex is not part of the subject.
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i do not know. that is the only thing that really interests mainstream american media. the media wrongly assumes that the law and the constitution has all of this stuff figured out and there is no reason to talk or think about a period that it will happen automatically. -- think about it. of that it will all happen automatically. if the president dies, the vice- president succeeds him and it seems to move on to the they may not realize -- succeeds him and it seems to move on. does the constitution adequately provide what we need? does it provide the information, the insight to make things work properly?
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from the perspective of someone who is a legal scholar, it seems like one of those issues that you can look at as unimportant until it changes history. i am thankful for the foresight, the imagination, the expertise of those people sitting in this room they are all dedicated to making sure-in this room. they are all dedicated -- in this room. robert gilbert is our first presenter. he is a political scientist and a professor and a scholar of the american presidency. he was part of a special group that advised president clinton on presidential succession and in 2004, he was chose to give a lecture at northeastern university. his topic was presidential
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disability in the age of terrorism. professor gilbert was chairman of northeastern university's political science department for 12 years and is the author of four books including "immortal presidency." rose mcdermott is our second presenter. she is a political science professor at brown university and the author of the book, " presidential illness and decision making." she holds a degree in psychology and has studied international relations. dr. mcdermott held a fellowship at san francisco's the va -- center cisco's v a, and she has andva. san francisco's
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taught atreed amar, yale law school where he is a professor of law and political science. one of his books is "the constitution: a biography." he has delivered lectures at some of three dozen colleges and universities. subjectings on today's include "presidents, vice presidents and a death: closing the constitution succession
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gap," and "constitutional vices." we begin with professor gilbert. >> thank you, very much. having listened to the speakers on the first panel, i was reminded that there are many critics of the constitutional amendment, the 25th amendment to the constitution, which is a very brief amendment. only one part, only section 4 of the 25th amendment is lengthy. section 1, 2 and 3 are pretty brief and pretty straightforward. i know there are critics that have arisen over the years that argue that if only we could at which, if only we could add more intricate language to the 25th
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amendment, problems of presidential disability would disappear. i have also heard many suggestions being made by physicians and those that are not physicians that if only we had standing impairment panels of physicians that would examine the president every year, given a battery of tests, and then make a report to the vice president and the public as to whether or not the president is physically and psychologically capable of remaining in office. i have heard the suggestions from time to time. my judgment is that the suggestions are incorrect. they would probably lead to much bigger problems than the problems that we face now. earlier this morning, one of the
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speakers referred to woodrow wilson could woodrow wilson was of a famous example-woodrow wilson. woodrow wilson was a famous example of the president. presidential disability did not begin with woodrow wilson. looking at some of the earlier presidents, president john adams was still while he was in the office -- while he was -- was ill while he was in the office. another president was ill for about a month. president monroe was built. president jackson was ill. some described him as the sickest of all presidents. president zachary taylor became ill and died after five days of illness.
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his successor suffered from kidney failure. it made it impossible for him to run for another term. president william harrison had the briefest presidency in history, one month. president garfield, who was shot, succumbed to his wounds. president mckinley was shot and lived for a weekend eight days before he's finally succumbed to his wounds -- a week and eight days before he finally succumbed to his wounds. we are all familiar with these cases of physiological gomes. it is unfortunate that this is the case, but very little attention has been given to those presidents that suffered from psychological illness. there have been a number of
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these presidents. before i even discuss three of the president's that i think- presidents -- presidents that i think fall under this category, the problem has not gotten any better over time. it one of the instances of presidential disability was the president who served in the middle of the 1800's. obviously, the learning in the 1800's was different than now. even now, it would be a major problem for the political system. a number of surveys have disclosed that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about psychological illness treated many people see it as carrying a very heavy stigma. some surveys have even disclosed
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that many people believe that serious psychological illness is a result of sin. this is true, now. not in the 1800's, but it is still true now. over the past 10 or 15 years, it is obvious that the american public is made very uncomfortable but the very question of psychological illness and the existence of psychological illness. obviously, this would make it very difficult for any president of the united states to admit that he should invoke section 3 and step aside until his psychological illness could be corrected. three presidents, in my judgment, and i am not a psychologist or had a chance to meet with any of these
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presidents, so i am not suggesting that this is a firm diagnosis, but i think that the diagnosis is a reasonable one. many psychiatrists agree with me. in terms of my interpretation of these three presidents. three presidents had serious depressive illnesses. clinical depression is extremely difficult to diagnose. its symptoms suggest physiological promus. people who are clinically depressed suffer pain and they have serious stomach pains and they believe that they are physically ill, but they are psychologically ill. many people who are depressed and not recognize the fact that they are depressed. they do not want to discuss or even to admit the possibility that they are depressed because they know there is a stigma
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attached to the film as. many people believe to the illness. -- to the illness. this is normal to be deeply depressed and deeply distressed when someone close to you guys. -- dies. an author and a new york times wrote that grief is noble symptomatic. our sorrow's make us human. depressed individuals are unwilling to discuss their depression. they tend to conceal the depression. they do not admit that they are such a plea caution they are
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psychologically impaired. they put on a very happy face -- they are psychologically impaired. they put on a happy face. one statistic that i found to be an amazing statistic is that psychiatrists failed to diagnose 70% patients that have depressive symptoms. a 70% of the time, these are not recognized even by the people who have been trained to diagnose them. when it comes to primary care physicians, people who are not psychiatrists, 90% of the time, primary physicians do not see the problem that exists. this is an ongoing problem for the political system. also, in addition to diagnostic difficulties that pertain to depressive illnesses, the also pertain to social effective
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doses. one of the hardest aspects of diagnosing schizophrenia is that it looks like a maniac in its active phase and number two, certain forms of drug abuse, extreme obsessive compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder to name a few. " how much time do i have? >> 10 minutes. >> it is difficult to differentiate among psychological illnesses. to people right -- write that a
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standing medical panel examining a president determine if he has a psychological problem. it is important to remember that all of the psychological illnesses carry varying degrees of impairment and some do not have impairment at all. obviously, the level of impairment would be very important in terms of deciding when to invoke section 4 of the 25th amendment. such labels of schizophrenia are used in prognosis' cases where as a cure schizophrenia, reactive schizophrenia and others are used for prognosis cases. there are this many variations of schizophrenia.
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as i say, each of these conditions affect patients to different degrees and to varying extents. for a psychiatrist to occasion to interact with the president, and presidents are not quite normal patients. normal patients see their doctor fairly frequently. presidents would not be as accessible to medical personnel and therefore it would be difficult for a psychiatrist to get an understanding of the president's psychological well- being. as i mentioned a few minutes ago, there are other things that i would like to talk about but time is running out. as i mentioned, there were three presidents of the united states who suffered from depressive illness. the presidents i am talking
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about are franklin pierce, who served as president just before the civil war and had a very difficult time with the country. calvin coolidge, who served as president rough before the advent of the great depression which was another terrible time for the country. the third one is abraham lincoln, who served during the civil war. each of these presidents suffered the loss of a young son during his presidency. sometimes under really terrific circumstances. franklin pierce, right before he was inaugurated, was traveling in a railroad car with his wife, the future first lady and with their last surviving child. they already had seen two of their sons die. they were traveling to their home in new hampshire with their 11-year-old son and the train became involved in some kind of a wreck and plunged down an
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indictment. the future president of united states, the president elect of the united states, discovered the body of his son. the president-elect was slightly injured. the back of the boy's head had been ripped off. when the president found him, he was dead. the reaction of the president and the reaction of the first lady was to be completely engulfed in grief. many say that the first lady never recovered from the death of her son, that she suffered a psychological breakdown. she refused to go to the inauguration or live in the white house. finally, she joined him in washington. one commentator said that she spent most of her time in her room, writing notes to the dead boy. president pierce was overwhelmed with grief. he was unable to deal with the problems confronting the
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country. calvin coolidge had the same experience. he suffered the loss of his favorite son, his 16-year-old son who died of blood poisoning after playing tennis and getting an infected blister on one of his toes and the boy died after a week. behavior changed significantly. we sometimes forget that he was governor of massachusetts. he was president of the state senate and vice president of the united states and a member of the legislature and mayor of the sitter -- the city of northampton. he was respected and held in high esteem. by the press, constituents and as the president of the united states. when he was nominated for president, he succeeded warren harding.
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calvin coolidge was nominated and then a few weeks later lost his favorite child. his behavior changed dramatically. he worked for hours a day. he used to be described as the work force of american politics. after his son's death, he worked for hours a day. . four hours a day. -- 4 hours a day. he was unable to answer questions about policies that he had put into effect. he sent troops to nicaragua to keep peace and when he was asked at a press conference about the troops in nicaragua, coolidge did not even though they were still there. he said that he thought they had been withdrawn but he was not sure. he was not certain. this is a president that
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basically did not function anymore as president of the united states. franklin pierce is denigrated by scholars, virtual it unanimously. many scholars point out that he was an inept politician before he became president and that he never should have become president of the united states. others say that the death of his son exacerbated his ineptitude. the third president of the united states that lost a son is abraham lincoln. he also suffered the loss of an 11-year-old boy. he also was heartbroken. his wife was also on the verge of a nervous breakdown. whereas franklin pierce was rated as the worst of the american presidents and calvin coolidge was rated as one of the worst of the american presidents, abraham lincoln was considered one of the best. despite his depression, he is ranked as the greatest
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president in american history. i mention these three cases to you to point out the difficult to come here. suppose a panel of physicians try to decide whether franklin pierce and calvin coolidge and abraham lincoln, on the basis of their depression, should be removed from office. perhaps calvin coolidge should have been removed from office because his behavior changed dramatically, pierce's personality did not change. he was in that before and he was an apt after. president lincoln's personality did not change. he was effective as the president of the united states. i mention these studies to see if doctors can interact with these patients and suggest whether or not section 4 of the 25th amendment should be invoked. i think it would be a virtual impossibility to request that you very much, professor to
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over. -- impossibility to request that. >> thank you very much, a professor gilbert. >> is an honor to be here. -- is an honor to be here. -- >> it is an honor to be here. this is an important topic and when i was thinking about that, one of the things that struck me was with the polish crash that killed their leader. what happens in the case of mass of annihilation were you have an attack were an entire host of looters and the whole line of succession gets taken out. before weapon of -- weapons of
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mass destruction, you could not imagine an attack on washington d.c. taking out a lot of the cabinet and a lot of members of congress in a way that affects succession. one of the ways that i thought about that time was using as a model a networked in the way that the pentagon developed the internet as a mechanism to overcome the risk of soviet military decapitation in the case of a nuclear war, that you would be able to have redundant and overlapping networks that are regionally fixed. you would involve regional leaders whether the governors or more local level leaders in the chain of succession. as i was thinking through this topic, it also struck me in thinking about ambiguities in
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the current law. we actually think about raising questions going forward in how we regard inability and disability. as senator bayh was mentioning, a lot of fashion leaders have been invested in hiding their disability is -- this ability -- and who gets to decide whether someone is sufficiently incapable of performing their duties to be removed from office. one of the things that struck me is that we think of our biology as pretty stable. our biology is every bit as flexible and adaptive and malleable as unconstitutional. we change physically not only as we age but as things happen to us.
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one of the scientific realities moving forward when we think about issues of inability and disability is the massive advances that have been made in biology and medical sciences. i was talking with one of the members of the law review about a panel that had been done on bio-ethics. looking for work on some of these issues, whether or not we, as political activists and scholars and academics think through these issues, it is for to happen with or without us. unless we start to address these issues, these things will come about in a way that mccaw's crisis. i want to talk about some of the factors and mechanism by which this might occur. i think that a lot of the
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biological factors that i am talking about were not imaginable 40 years ago when some of the work was done about the 25th amendment. some of the advances at that time were not scientifically developed to fit about -- to think about. what if someone has a genetic risk factor for the homeless? i do not need to be blunt or crass or to talk about that there is a new gene. i do not need to talk about risk factors that leaders may have but, possible factors that we might screen for on the upside. let me give you a couple of examples. imagine that you have a woman like hillary clinton running for president and you find out that she carries the gene that makes
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her vulnerable for breast cancer one or breast cancer to. -- breast cancer two. is that something we should screen for? if you have the gene for huntington's disease, your reply to get that killed us. -- you are likely to get that bill must pat -- illness. there is always want to be an environmental interaction that will participate -- precipitates that. if they have this particular gene, it means that they will get cancer. their chances are higher than somebody who does not have it. it is not whether that issue should be made public. the issue is that once it is
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found and someone gets into office and it is found, is that something that constitutes an ability or disability that should be accounted for in a certain way. i think it is one of those kinds of things where flexibility is in the document. the biggest example relates to work that i have done, myself that relate to regression. particularly in menace of test -- manifestation of physical aggression. when you have this particular kind of polymorphism, if you have a particularly dramatic life of them, you will react when you were provoked.
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someone in that kind of circumstance may be more likely to react aggressively. it is important to think about how those things may manifest and whether or not that is something that we want to scream for fourth about and whether it will constitute a disability that will also want to be removed from office. the critical factor, and i am aware that it is very difficult to talk about these things because these arguments are often subtle. it is not that genetic influences are simple or straightforward. they are not. that always involve an
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environmental component. they are worth discussion. it is difficult to represent it in a 32nd sound bite. you can have discussions on charlie rose, but you are not necessarily going to have that on world news tonight. it is very important. as i said, it can be increasingly challenging to think of up to think about -- to think about ways that we might accommodate scientific of advances that were not available when the constitution was framed. as professor gilbert has put forward, this is a very distinct local ecology. it is not that a depressed leader is going to be depressed regardless, but unexpected events could happen and affect people in profoundly -- and
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profoundly affect them. someone like abraham lincoln may not have necessarily gotten depressed if he had not lost both of his children, but once that circumstance has a right, there are certain types of consequences. there has been some discussion of wilson and i think about the depression that wilson had following the death of his first wife. that was a very interesting circumstance where i think that had the 25th amendment been in place at that time, there would have been some discussion about whether or not he should be removed from office. his doctor is known to have notes saying that he needs to get this guy married again. he really needed some kind of emotional support that he was not getting. unless you find him another wife, there will be another war.
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so he found him a wife. she was a very different character than alum what some -- ellen watson. it was like a switch flipped. there was a very quick reversal in his emotional state that was stabilized. that is an example of a brief interlude three we can think about these things as happening to all of us in our lives in unpredictable ways. some of us may have more genetic risks for certain outcomes including depression and others for it is important to think about the characteristics that make certain leaders better suited for certain challenges and not as suited for the challenges. i would like to go back to talk about the upside. it is not just the downside that
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somebody can get cancer or get depressed, but it may be that there are characteristics that make people more effective leaders in one way or another. that they are more charismatic, that they have more resilience, that they are likely to live longer or less likely to be an alcoholic or more likely to have more intelligence. it can have an impact on their ability and their skill as individual leaders. if that is true, that is an upside. that is not something that you will screen for. it gives you a reason to say that maybe you want this person in office more than you want this person in office and is that a reason to make a decision.
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can we simultaneously say that we are going to screen people that have better leadership characteristics? i know that this may sound like something completely different, because if there is an element of science fiction to it, the analysis is available to us now and it is quite in advance. you can swap your own cheek -- swab your own cheek and get an analysis. we can do that with leaders and that will get into the hands of people who want to use it for political event. it is going to happen. other people will use it for political advantage of whether or not we agree to that. i think it is very important when we think about segments of disability and an ability to
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consider these kinds of biological and physiological factors. thank you, very much. [applause] >> them to dr. mcdermott. and now, akhil amar. >> is a great honor and privilege to be with you all. specially senator bayh. i had a dream last night. we were invited to talk about sex. [laughter] i spent my life palin a round with the likes of abraham withng around
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the likes of abraham lincoln. i had this dream. do you remember this scene in " annie hall" where there was a professor bloviating about something and this professor looked a lot like me and i was droning on. woody allen pulls out looks up as professor and says that you misrepresented everything that i stand for. this is the risk right now because i'm going to say a little bit to think about the
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25th amendment and we have james madison, abraham lincoln and others right here. i offer you three sets of possible applications and ways of thinking about the 25th amendment. i do not know, it's -- i do not know how much its framers would have recognized these applications and implications for that is why there is ambiguity. here goes. the most important by far are implications that the 25th amendment has for our system of contingent success andion --
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succession. what happens when a president and vice president are disabled? the current statute on the books, the presidential succession act is really a constitutional accident waiting to happen, an accident of pretty efik -- epic proportions. recent events in russia have shown that it is not a zero probability event. the 25th amendment has some very serious implications for the presidential succession statute. you will hear more about that on litter panels but let me set the stage for my friends that will speak to you later on this topic.
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we began with james -- we begin with james madison. james madison participated in a statute that provided for presidential succession. that put the senate president pro tem a second in the succession. they said that that was unconstitutional. it was said that this provision in the constitution says that when both the president and vice-president for out of action, dead or disabled, congress may, by law, provide for a statutory successor, but they are supposed to designate an officer to succeed the president. strictly speaking, leaders of
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the house and senate are officers within the meaning of the succession clause. " what was meant was a cabinet officer, possibly a judicial officer, but not legislative officers. the constitution has a very strong distinction between officers and others. i pulled my handy pocket constitution here. article one, section 6 says no senator shall be appointed to any civil office and no person holding any office under the united states shall be a member of either house. madison said that the senate
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president pro tem is not the kind of officer that we have in mind when we envisioned congress dealing with succession. his wisdom was redeemed at a time when there was no vice- president because prior to the amendment, there was no way of filling a vice-presidential individual. there is no way of filling the vice-presidential the vacancy when it johnson ascends to the presidency and he is impeached and almost convicted. who was next in line was -- ? -- who was in line? president pro tem.
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that has worked the impeachment process by making a signature next in line rather than a cabinet officer. america sees that and it changes the statute. it moves to a system of proper cabinet succession. hurray for james madison that statute -- james madison. that's that to put its legislative leaders in line of succession. i think that is wrong for reasons that i have already said. it warps the whole impeachment process and makes it a less judicial honest -- bayless judicialized process. what does this have to do with
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the 25th amendment? i say that the 25th amendment gives us additional reasons, even if you do not stand with madison and you don't buy my part of -- arguments about the andrew johnson impeachment, even if you do not buy those things, it really is in deep tension with the implications of the 25th amendment. how so? first, just think of what the 25th amendment says. it says that won the presidency and the vice presidency or vacated sequentially, you were going to get another type of succession. you will get the party that you voted for. you get nixon. if you do not get nixon, you get agnew. if you do not get agnew, you get for, who nixon kicks because of
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the 25th amendment. if you do not get for, you get nelson rockefeller. -- if you do not get bored and -- ford, you get nelson rockefeller. that is exactly opposite what the statutory succession law is given as a. when these two offices become vacated simultaneously because there is some horrendous plane crash or some pandemic virus or some act of terrorism which could be a plane crash or something else, these positions are vacated simultaneously and you get something very different.
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that is an intention of party continuity. that means that in 10 months, you voted for obama/biden. you voted for bush/cheney. i didn't. i am a believer in all of this. no matter who is in power in the executive branch and who has been in power in the legislative branch, we should not have different rules for different parties. if you vote for bush and cheney , and you get nancy pelosi. if you vote for martin sheen and you get john goodman? [laughter]
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we should have an apostolic succession. if you vote republican, you get republican. that is what you deserve for four years. if you did democrat, you get a democrat. second, note that there is a personal link between the top two executive officials. when the vice presidential seat becomes vacant, the president handpicks his or her successor. this handpicking idea, which is a codification of modern presidential practice, before the 1930's, presidents did not always pick their running mates. through the early 20th century,
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parties picked running mates. presidential candidates did not hand picked them in -- hand picked them until the 40's -- the 1940's. we have this codification of the hand-picked kind of idea. and it -- candidates are -- presidents are handpicking the secretary of state. this is a constitutional codification that has not completely a merged in 1947 when we get the statute. the statute has been overtaken by the constitutional process. what was truman's idea about why
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he preferred the speaker of the house rather than the secretary of state? the secretary of state is not elected and he is a word about the electorate problem. the confirmation -- he is in a position to contradict me. they cannot speak for themselves. he did say that if the confirmation process functions as a type of collection and that is what gerald ford had three he was nominated by the man they all voted for.
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he hand-picked ford. the house and senate confirmed him. that is election equivalent per it is the same with rockefeller. he was handpicked by ford and nixon and he is confirmed. if that is your vision of what the 25th amendment gives you, it is an answer to this note election anxiety of truman because the same thing can be true when that person is confirmed, if you want to have a separate cabinet officer, the vice president's only job is -- it would be a very focused one.
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the vice president's only job is to be in the line of succession out of the line of fire, kind of a designated hitter. exceptn't do any thing in a terrible moment of crisis when we lost both of the people that we voted for, that person can come in with accountability. two other things. i will not talk about some of the other we're applications. center by said that he wanted a -- signature bayh said that he wanted a seamless transfer power. george w. bush undergoes a
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medical procedure in the hands of power to cheney. not missing a beat, it is preceded by the bill is. that back-and-forth, you cannot have, in a disability situation, with the speaker of the house next in line, because they will have to give up the position of speaker of the house and take over the provincial power. -- to presidential power. it does not work seamlessly back and forth. that is not the hand-picked relationship and institutionally, it does not worked because of the clause
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that i just read to. -- read you. she has to step down and the statute says that she has to step down. that creates many misdeeds. finally, senator bayh said that succession is about filling vice-presidential vacancies and filling them quickly. that is ideal and that is in tension with the current statutory succession. when gerald ford nominates nelson rockefeller, it took congress 121 days to confirm rockefeller. why did it taken so long? if something happened to ford, who will be president, it will be a democrat. maybe the democrats were old its slow in confirming the thing. -- -- for a little bit slow in
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confirming the plan. -- were a little bit slow in confirming the thing. >> thank you, very much. [applause] >> now, i have to say that this has been pretty interesting to this is amazingly interesting. a subject that i would have thought would have been the least interesting subject is one of the most interesting. senator you have been central to all this. what are your comments to this panel? >> you ought to get credit for taking this course. [laughter] >> i certainly have learned a lot from those of you that were
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in this specific area. i might make two or three observations. i think each of you have made significant contributions. the question that a panel of doctors came up with, one would tell you that there is a lawyer in st. louis that is very active in the bar association that felt the only way you could have real determination to whether a president was ill or not to have -- was to have [inaudible]
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we have already pointed out the difficulty with the panel of doctors that do not have day to day contact with the president, even someone with psychosis could put on a good show. it seems that there is another thing that you might think about. suppose you had a panel of doctors and a vote for-3 that the president is competent. 4-3 that the president is confident. i think that a panel of doctors has no place in this at all. obviously, the president's doctor will talk to physicians in the area of that illness. that is the best way to deal with this.
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you need to have people that see the president and action day after day. the cabinet people are in a good position to know how he is responding. professor mcdermott, the accomplishments that we made are very impressive, but they are also sort of frightening. there was a fellow named adolf hitler who was categorizing certain people that should be taken care of and should not be around to be involved in society, generally. that would have to be handled very carefully and sometimes it is better not to have it then to have that.
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especially in this day and age. i heard a lot of reasons for giving merit, but getting troops out of mexico, that is new. [laughter] you made a very passionate plea for changing the succession statute. in the constitutional aficionado, i think it is a lot better reason to get the officers of their. -- out of there. as one witness testified about
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succession, i think it is important to understand that the 25th amendment isn't designed not only to fill a vacancy, but to have some degree of continuity of policy. now, i was the first one to testify in the house in support of general -- in support of jerrold -- of gerald ford, because i thought he would support the nixon policy. if you have to fill a vacancy, we do not want whiplash in back and forth.
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so i've done myself supporting gerald ford and opposing nelson rockefeller. if push came to shove, i would like rockefellers' ideas in the house, but i opposed him, because i did not believe that was continuity in policy. you have an oil crisis and an energy crisis, and you put somebody in the vice-president see who has a history of great investment and involvement in the petroleum industry, and that was moving the party further to the left and the american people said they wanted. i said, we are going to jump on that boat to for continuity. thank you so much for the contribution you have all made here.
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>> those were more than random thoughts. those were terrific thoughts. any comments back to the senator? >> i just want to respond to your comment about the presidential disability panel. you're talking about how wilson was very successful in being able to deceive not only the people that came in to investigate him by sort of, lying in bed, closing the window, making sure that is parallel side was in the dark, but he actually had his doctor as a member of the group that was keeping the discussion -- the deception alive. i think that doctors can be coerced to participate in keeping people confused about the state of the president. i think the wilson case is a good example of that.
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>> he moved from physical whiplashed and disability to the kind of policy whiplashed was mentioned. another word for whiplashed is regina change. this is a threat, my fellow -- regime change. this is a threat, my fellow americans, that we risk when some deranged assassin get it into their heads to affect and regime change by simultaneously attacking the president and the vice-president and shifting the executive power from the people we did elect and the continuity we were expecting from them to perhaps the exact opposite of the political spectrum. this is not just science
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fiction. the same way that you heard from my distinguished fellow panelist above the actual history of mental and physical disabilities of past presidents, when garfield is shot, the guy shooting him down and says i am stalwart that are there will be president. some people believe john wilkes booth was actually trying to affect a certain type of a regime change. it is not science fiction. that is the kind of a quick pledge that is very much to be avoided. i agree with you. our friend james madison had a good technical point about authorship, but there are many other reasons to be very nervous about the current system. it really is a constitutional accident waiting to happen, and we can fix a pretty easily now.
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the model for fixing it now, before it happens, is a model of the 25th amendment. just what was done after the assassination of john kennedy, that is what we should have been doing right after 9/11. recent events in the soviet union perhaps present another opportunity for us to make sure it does not happen here gary >> -- happen here. >> what are the possibilities of this kind of change taking place? >> i remember writing from atlantic city where i had addressed and autoworkers convention. the president gave me a ride back in the chopper to washington.
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pretty impressive stuff. i thought would take advantage of having him captive in the hopper to ask him to support the disability in succession eminent. he said you are never going to get the past until hubert humphrey's get elected vice president and we're not taking away from speaker of the house. from a practical perspective, that is very difficult to do right now. i think the only way you get that done is if you can convince the speaker that the likelihood of this happening, and if you have good, healthy people such as the president and the vice president, maybe now is the
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time. you have a very prestigious group that comes up with something like this that can convince the speaker of the house, and it has to be an organization that is not only reputable nationwide, but i do not think the speaker goes to work every day and things, boy, if something happens, i will be president of the united states. i think she probably has the best job in town. i have observed that too great a link already, but if we look at the way this decision was made, when harry truman said, is someone is elected, we should not have someone appointing his successor.
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harry truman might not have been president if he had not been chosen by fdr to be his vice president. the vice president is basically going to be the one in the presidential nominee is comfortable with. it is different from being secretary of state or somebody like that, including speaker of the house. there is a practical reality of how you have to deal with that, if you can. >> professor. >> in my earlier remarks i spoke about a proposal that has been made very vigorously from time to time. a number of physicians have made this proposal, and senator by
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referred to in his remarks. i would just like to add something to the discussion, because when you hear something like that, a proposal like this, the most logical reaction to it is to say, this really makes sense, because after all, who really can determine whether a president is well or not well better than a group of doctors? let's go back to the eisenhower administration, because a couple of the speakers on this panel have referred to president eisenhower. president eisenhower actually had a very interesting history. we did not know in the white house. we knew part of it, but we now know much more because his physicians have written their own papers and have talked about. president eisenhower became president in 1953. we know now depth in 1910 -- we
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know now that in 1954 eisenhower likely had a heart attack while he was in at the white house and the white house never disclosed. one of his cardiologists has said that he reviewed eisenhower's party gramm, symptoms and so on, and -- cardiogram, symptoms and so on, and determined that eisenhower had a heart attack but was concealed from the country. later he had a heart attack the was too serious to be concealed because he had to be hospitalized. it would be interesting to go back to the period of time, to the decision that eisenhower had to make as to whether or not he should run for reelection. needless to say, the republicans wanted him to run because they believed he could win. they believe that he did not have the ticket they would suffer a very bad laws.
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they were hoping and pushing eisenhower to run. eisenhower met with three physicians. one was a cardiologists, the second cardiologists, and the third was the general practitioner for the white house. most cardiologists told eisenhower he should not run again -- and both cardiologists told eisenhower he should not run again. the third doctor also told him not to run again. he said, i am telling you something i have not gone public with, but your heart has developed an aneurysm, and even if it does not burst, it will likely cause you serious difficulties in your second term.
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in other words, over the next years, you're likely to either die or become seriously incapacitated. the doctor who was an old political ally told him to run again. as we all know, eisenhower ran again. also as we all know, he was reelected. he served up the four years of his second term. he lived an additional eight years, did not die until 1969, and as a matter of fact, he outlived the democratic presidential and vice- presidential candidates who had run against him in the 1956 election. he outlived them. they both died before he did. now, what would have happened of those doctors had gone public with those prognoses back --
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prognoses? two out of three doctors recommended that he should step down. even if there was one thing that -- one saying that, what purpose would that panel have served? it would have driven eisenhower out of office. there would have been a different president, a member the president was, either vice- president nixon or some other candidate, and he would have been driven out of office because of an erroneous prognosis. so this is an illustration of the problem with medical panels. doctors are not gods. they are not gods. they make informed judgments. they make guesses. whether or not those guesses are realized is in the hands of somebody else.
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>> i have known doctors on panels, and they're not only not gods, there are more than human. they can be moved by political winds, but interpersonal relations, but every other kind of thing. so much of what we have been talking about has been trying to keep this wonderful country of ours and stable in a time of great turmoil, and that is what is key to our whole civilization together is keeping its stable. that is what the senator was working on on the amendment. also, we had talked about having experts and special help and all of this stuff. but do we not as americans have the right to elect in confidence?
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is that not part of the right of electing? >> having nothing to do with one's health. say no more. i want to make a couple other observations if i may hear. percival -- first of all, i want to point of the one of the important steps to getting the amendment ratified involved meeting eisenhower. he was going to give a speech. nobody knew what he was going to said. he came out guns blazing,
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supporting the disability situation, with the perspective of someone who has done under the oxygen tent. perhaps the most effective witness we had was richard nixon, who spoke for an hour without a note, absolutely chronicling everything that happened when he was outside the oxygen tent and there had been no rules or regulations governing what should happen. at the risk of repeating myself, which i am glad -- which in good themore we utilize it, more we realize that, it is particularly in the president's interest to make that declaration. sometimes you make it too soon, like when president reagan did. he was still under the
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influence of anesthesia. we now know that he did not know what he was doing. one other thing i should mention here, and i don't know. i suppose i am just throwing these things out. after the first use of the 25th amendment for disability, the reagan to bush experience, the experts of the press just rained all leverage. there were all sorts of criticisms of this is setting up for a white knight on a horse to charge in here. probably the preeminent entity studying the presidency had a commission which i cochaired.
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i got the report out and read it before coming here, and interestingly enough, they came to the conclusion that we did. we had talked about an airplane diving into the capitol building back in 1963. bell was before we even knew about terrorism. -- that was before we even knew about terrorism. every concern that has been raised has been discussed in the delivery of legislative process -- in a deliberate legislative process. the 20th amendment is not perfect, but every time you try to -- the 25th amendment is not
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perfect, but every time you try to improve it, you get resistance. in the stand the second vice- president bing. -- vice-president thing. that is neither here nor there. one suggestion that the miller center made which i think is critical, is it is absolutely essential for every president, no matter what his age, to have a contingency plan as to what he intends to have done when he is no longer capable of making those decisions. that contingency should include all of the players who might influence the process. the spouse would be number one.
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the chief of staff would be no. 2. doctor or two. idea is, the president says, get your computer out, here is what i want to have happen. a, b, c, d. so the when happens, you do not have to imagine what the president wants. you have a contingency plan. i had a nice conversation at the white house with one of president obama closest advisers. she was advising him into a sitting website the white house door. -- she was advising him. she was sitting outside the white house door. she said that president obama has a very comprehensive contingency plan, and hopefully we never have to use it.
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but we must recommend to future presidents, once you get elected, no matter how young you are -- president kennedy -- the people around you want to do the right thing. give them an idea of what to do in advance. >> do we have a question from the audience? >> my question basically is best. -- is of this. -- is this. when president reagan was shot and was going to go for emergency surgery, was section 4 contemplated at that time? speak to that with
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some authority. we held hearings to this regard. he said he had never heard of the 25th amendment. he said a of then in his briefcase but he did not know it was. -- he said it may have been in his briefcase but he did not know what it was. he said clearly the president was disabled and it should have been used. he was able for a short period of time to sign his name to a letter saying he was transferring powers over to his vice president. >> i remember he asked the surgeon if he was a republican or not before he operated. [laughter] >> that may have been the case.
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one person will tell you about the reaction he got when he went to the cabinet and said, should we use the 25th amendment or not? >> the section for provision really pivots on the decision of the vice-president. if the vice president is not willing to put himself or herself forward, section iv cannot be triggered. one possible weakness is, what happens when the vice-president is in existence but is himself or herself the disabled to some extent? section iv really hinges on the vice-president. >> if i could just add one thing do that. one sort of interesting story.
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when president reagan was shot in 1981, vice president bush was not in washington. he was out of town. some of vice president bush's aides suggested to him -- and i think this is revealing of the typical response to would come from the vice-president who does not want to appear to be too anxious -- that he should helicopter onto the white house lawn to send a message to the world that someone was in charge. you remember the problem with alexander haig and that timing control at the white house. an aide suggested the helicopter onto the white house lawn to show the was in charge, but even though the amendment had not been invoked, in point of fact, he was taking charge.
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vice-president bush very wisely refused to do that. he told his aide that there is only one person who helicopters onto the white house lawn, and that person is the president of the united states, it is not me. i think this would be a problem for any vice-president to appear to be seen by the public as being too anxious to supplant the president. so, if anything, vice presidents are more likely to be reticent to them over anxious. also, president reagan as you know suffered another illness in 1985. he had colon cancer the metastasized. to feed of his contestant had to be removed -- two feet of his intestines had to be removed. in a letter that he wrote, he said he did not think the 25th amendment was applicable to that set of circumstances, which is
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actually not correct. in his memoirs, president reagan now writes that he in fact in the to the 25th amendment. so i -- invoke to the 25th amendment. i think it is interesting that his view on what he had done changed. >> the reason he gave in the letter was that he did not want to establish a precedent that would bind other presidents. we should establish the precedent. i can turn this over. i can claim it again, and the country continues to flourish.
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that is an interesting observation. >> appropriately, we have to let you have the last word. we have run long, but this has been genuinely fascinating. and like to thank my panel of professors. i would of course like to thank the senator. i would like to thank fordham university in for the genius of putting this together. i would also like to thank c- span, the only media organization that i know that would be willing to cover such an important topic. there is much more to come, but we are going to take a break now. [applause] >> while away on vacation, the obama are having the oval office remodeled to the newly
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designed state that hand-held camera crews were allowed to shoot for about three minutes. highlights of the changes as provided by the white house are new and reupholstered furniture, new wallpaper as well as a new rug. >> we recently spent time with president obama in the oval office before it was redecorated, asking him about life in the white house and working in the oval office. >> what is it like to live in the white house? >> is an extraordinary experience. i think that what michelle and the girls and i appreciate most is the staff. there are so diligent, constantly thinking about to make the first family comfortable in what is to some
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degree an artificial environment. they're wonderful and have become great friends. i also have the shortest commute of anybody i know, and that makes a huge difference. it means the no longer i have worked on any given day, i can always go up and see my wife and kids. that is something i appreciate more than anything else about being here in the white house. >> what will you change in this room? >> of the truth of the matter is we have not yet redecorated this room. the tradition is to rework it. given that we are in the midst of some very difficult economic times, we decided to hold off last year in terms of making some changes. if i did make a few personal changes, one was to add a bust of martin luther king jr. to remind me of the extraordinary
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dedication of a lot of people to allow me to have the privilege of serving in this office. we got some of these neat gadgets that were donated to us. some of them date back to the early 1800's. it is a reminder that part of what makes this country so great is our investment. those are additions i may. there were a bunch of plates up their -- plates up there, and we decided we did not need those plates. this is one of my favorite pictures. this was donated by steven spielberg. it is a norman rockwell, and from a distance it looks like a portrait of the statue of liberty, but if you look more
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closely, you have three guys up there cleaning the torch. it is a reminder that we have to renew the flames of our democracy. >> when people come in this room, how do you notice them react? >> some people have said this is the greatest home court advantage that you could have. i do think that people feel a certain reverence for the space, because it symbolizes the presidency. it symbolizes what has been the extraordinary record of tough decisions, monumental decisions that have been made in this room. usually, people do have a little bit of a pause before they step
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been. hopefully i am able to make them deal comfortable. after that there usually fine. >> you snuck in a bunch of historians, i believe in the dining room. what is your relationship with history? >> when you occupy this office, you're constantly reminded that you're just one of the series of people who dedicated their lives to perfecting the country and making our democracy function. i spend a lot of time reading history. just to remind myself of the standards that i have to live up to, also of the mistakes that
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have been made by the occupants of this office. talking to some of these historians and the being helpful to provide perspective, particularly in the 24 hour news cycle that we live in here in washington. so much of the attention is on the daily ups and downs of politics. my job is to constantly remember that what i do here is on behalf of not just tomorrow, but on behalf of the next generation. >> when you are in year alone -- in here alone, when did you look up and say, i cannot believe this? >> i'm sure every president would tell you it happens on the first day. george bush was very gracious to both me and my family during the
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transition. he left me a letter. i sat in here and read the letter. it was a beautiful sunny day. i looked around and thought, i'd better not screwup. >> we're in the white house do you find yourself the happiest? >> the south lawn is extraordinary. we built a place set out here -- play set that the girls used to use a lot. they're now getting older and do not use it as much. but sometimes i will look up the window, and suddenly somebody is on a swing. it reminds you of what you're doing and what we're doing. people run by cheerful.
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they say that if you want a friend in washington, get a dog. i have one and he is a pretty good friend. every once in awhile i will sneak in and read the gettysburg address. a constantly remind myself that that was only three minutes long. i take a look at that piece of genius and i remember that there is something to brevity. >> do you ever look at the white house like you're going to be here for a long time? >> i think both me and the family recognize that this is the people's house and that we are temporary occupants, which means that we want to make sure
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that we leave this place in as extraordinary condition as we found it. i think that there is a humility there. we also want to bring people into the white house. we have done a lot of events with wounded warriors, with kids from surrounding schools to may somehow feel that this is just a world apart. we want to let them know, this belongs to you. this is part of your legacy as an american citizen. >> what is your kids reaction to living here? >> there at an age where i think they would be comfortable just about anywhere. the degree to which they have adapted to this place is pretty extraordinary. they treat it just like home,
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and that is exactly what we won. it is a little bigger than our place in chicago. the staff here has been so wonderful to them and helpful to them. they're less constrained in terms of their abilities to leave the white house. they do not have a press pool following them everywhere. they have the best of both worlds, as does my mother-in- law. she lives on the third floor. she lived in a small apartment in chicago for 40 years, and now she is in the white house. she seems to like it ok, and she can always just go wandering out the gate and take a walk, and nobody knows who she is. >> thank you, certification. >> thank you very much. >> president obama will make two stops next week to talk to the
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the economy. he will have a labor event on monday in milwaukee, wisconsin. on wednesday, the president travels to cleveland. on friday, he holds a news conference at the white house. we will have coverage of the president on the c-span network. checks [unintelligible] -- check c-span.org for details. >> next, a conversation with the president of abc news. after that, nuclear arms reduction. then a look at the life and presidency of lyndon johnson. >> there is nothing about financing that is like rocket science. this is probably the most frustrating thing for me about how we think about ponzi schemes. the biggest ponzi scheme for wall street is telling someone who has worked really hard to earn a buck that they are not smart enough to understand how that but is going to be invested. >> in 2007, analysts emeritus of
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whitney was the first to predict a major losses for citigroup, one of the world's largest financial companies. she is our guest sunday night. >> now, the president of abc news is interviewed by time editor at large about the news business, how it has changed and how believes the organization. this is just over an hour and 10 minutes. [applause] >> as david knows, and the interview with the journalists involved ground rules. many want to know in advance what the questions will be. david had no desire what i was
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going to ask him, and i had no desire to tell him. [laughter] this is going to be completely free wheeling from our end. i think there is nothing -- i think there could not be a more important time to be discussing this topic. i think the rise of the importance of ethical leadership comes to the forefront of the challenges we face. in the middle of the last century, when the challenge to western civilization's very survival was at stake, to have in leadership positions men like winston churchill and franklin roosevelt, who embodied i think, the three qualities of leadership that i think we think of as most important, intellect, experience and instinct, was vital to the outcome of that challenge. you do not often get all three in our leaders. so i was curious about how you would rank -- we have had a
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president whose intellect was often questioned and mocked followed by a president whose instincts and emotions are often questioned and mocked. if we were to start with experience, and the fact that our current president like, harry truman, jack kennedy, had very little experience before coming into office, how big an issue dealing lot of experience is, and is it ever an advantage? -- big an issue do you think lack of experience is, and is it ever an advantage? >> per se of all, let me say that it is an honor to be here. -- first of all, let me say that it is an honor to be here. i have the greatest respect for nancy. talking about experience,
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intelligence and the motion, i would one of three. they're all important. you want somebody who is intelligent enough to understand the institution they're leading, whether it is a company, a country, or the chautauqua. you want somebody with good instincts to give a visceral reflex. warren buffett once said that he looked for integrity, intelligence and ambition. if they did not have integrity, he hoped they did not have intelligence or ambition. [laughter] to some extent, i feel the same way about leadership. if you have someone who is blindingly smart but does not have 11 of experience, i think you can go bad -- does not have the leaven of experience, i
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think you can go badly off the rails. however, experience does not always look like what you think it does. more important than having experienced at the job is having a person who can draw upon their experiences in any capacity and apply them to the task at hand. >> do you think the fact that the president has never run anything is a valid concern? >> i have a bias as someone who has run something. i do think that there is no substitute for having actually run something, as opposed to advising, as opposed to being an academic. most recently it has struck me -- and i do not know enough to really criticize, but the oil
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spill disaster down in the gulf, the immediate reaction from the white house was not the one we would have expected from someone who had run a big organization. i cannot imagine the former head of g e appointing a commission. this is not the way somebody who has had line experience running a big, complex organization acts. they're much more hands-on, much more direct, much less trusting of the information's coming in. once you have been burned a few times, even by having well- intentioned people giving you information that turned out to be hopelessly wrong, you turn very skeptical. the people of bp have a vested interest. they may be honest from their point of view, but they have a vested interest. if you have been through that a couple of times, then you have been burned, and you knew that
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you cannot rely on other people for their point of view. >> when you discover abc news -- when you took over abc news, you had no experience as a journalist. how did that work? [laughter] >> it was much worse than that. i had not been a journalist. i was a lawyer. and i came from a corporation. [laughter] i was starved later to the people of abc news -- i was darth vader to the people at abc news. i learned the job one mistake at the time. i have made my share of mistakes, but any leader is going to make their share of mistakes. the important thing is not making them twice, learning from each one as best as you can. this would be for others to say,
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but i do think, having been a lawyer in washington in private practice, and having been general counsel, and having them on the corporate side, i did have experience with some things -- one example. outsiderun investigations into corporations. when we got the election ron not once, but twice in the same night, which was a terrible experience, my immediate reaction was that we need to bring the outside lawyers then and i want a thorough review, rather than, let's explain ourselves and then why it is not our fault. >> was there a moment when you felt like the courts -- the
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people answering to you came to accept your leadership? >> one of the problems i have had is that people accepted me sooner than i felt accepted. some of the mistakes i made or from a point of defensiveness, thinking people did not treat me credibly. this will sound very strange to say. i was somewhat fortunate the one of the very first big stories we had was a modicum lewinsky scandal. there is a substantial legal element to that right from the very beginning. it is something that i knew how a grand jury worked and knew how the council works, and had some sense of the supreme court. i had a little bit of an accidental leg up. i knew more than my journalists
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did about a lot of what was going on in illegal proceedings. >> on the intellect question, i suspect in a community like this, an audience like this, where we are all may be disposed to over privileged academic credentials in learning and intellect, and yet i am struck by how often you get this divide between the man of ideas and the man of action, and then knowing too much or thinking too much can actually in some ways make acting as a leader more difficult. do you believe that? have you seen that? >> i think that you can be too smart for some of these jobs if you do not watch out. >> what does that look like? >> it looks like over thinking things. leadership, at its most basic form, in my view, does having
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watched it within my own industry and having coverage nationally the leadership comes down to making choices, making tough choices, sometimes unpopular traces, but making them based on a the best information you can get and then implementing those changes. the enemy of good leadership this distraction. you do not have clear goals or remember what they are, you cannot pursue them. sometimes people who are too smart or think about too many things at once lose track. therefore, their organization loses track. what are we trying to do here? what are we really trying to accomplish? you end up with that decision making -- bad decision making. >> is the inverse of that that the people who end up in
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leadership positions are people who tend to act as opposed to pause to reflect or have a second thought? and sometimes not acting is actually the better leadership decision? >> it may be in fact that there is a bias in this society to put action people into leadership positions, but often those people become extinct. often the smartest thing to do is not to act, to have the courage not to act. often what one does as a leader is to not do things. >> give me an example. >> we have every day where i have people come and say we should report this and may delay because it is a huge story. i say, no -- we need to report this immediately because it is a huge story. i say, no we need to hold back. my reading of the history of the bay of pigs was that there had been planning going on and when
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kennedy came in he did not want to appear to be weak on the cuba. in fact he had run on being tougher on cuba van nixon was. -- than nixon was. kennedy acted because he felt he needed to act and be a man of action. he clearly came to regret it, as he said. >> wages have an election 90 months ago that was all about -- we just had an election 19 months ago that was all about leadership. ethics has come to play a larger role in elections. did you think of that mattered last time? >> you know more about this than i do, so i should turn it back to you. think about john mccain versus barack obama. i did not have a sense that we
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were choosing between what people thought of as one ethical, moral person and one who wasn't. there have been elections where that has been an issue. but also, ethics in leadership for me is not simply doing the moral thing. ethics in leadership is doing -- to be truly ethical as a leader, you owe it to the people of the organization that you lead to have a clear sense of where you are going, expressed clearly, and the state true to that. of the worsts one qualities of leadership. coming back to mccain and obama, i think we did not really know much about president obama. we knew he was very smart, very articulate, very charismatic,
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and seemed, in my point of view, to be a thoroughly decent man. we knew john mccain to be a war hero and a politically courageous man. when the iraqi surge was decided, almost nobody in the media or washington thought it had a chance. he took a courageous stance. between the two, i do not perceive a difference in the ethics of their leadership. >> one of the reasons i am curious about our current gallery of leaders is because there is a saying that the scandal is what legal. we have not watched financial institutions do credit defaults
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swaps that were perfectly legal but very wrong. almost at the risk of getting metaphysical, in this climate and what is right is what i can get away with. every poll in the last three or four years has shown a dramatic collapse in faith in leadership in art, business, the church, a government. i wonder if you think we are at the moment of crisis in ethical leadership? >> i am conservative with a small c so i do not always assume we're at the moment of crisis. on the political level, and even the national and global leadership level, as well as things like the financial institutions, a failure of
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leaders to perceive, they owe their primary obligations to -- m they owe theiropwho primary obligations to. these are experienced, knowledgeable people. i cannot believe they did not think there was a bubble in the real-estate market. but they were not thinking about that. they were thinking about their own interests, and putting them even above the institutions that they served. i worry on the political front that too often we are seeing are worried about reelection and ancillary issues, rather than the public that they serve. it is very easy for a leader to say, i have to worry about
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reelection. i am a politician. it is easy for ceo's to say, i have to pay $40 million per year otherwise we cannot attract people to the business. but who are you serving? the public, or the shareholders? when you see a ceo getting paid enormous amounts of money, large enough amounts so that if everything blows up they will be just fine, as opposed to being in line with the ramifications of their decisions, i think that shows a lack of ethics and leadership. [applause] >> you and i have talked a lot especially in the last couple of months about our current leaders unwillingness to be honest about what needs to be done right now , with this economy particularly, with our long- range vulnerability. can you talk about a little bit?
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>> i am very concerned about this. i think everybody here today knows that we are facing some major issues as a country and as a world. think about the country for a minute. you can go down the list, and probably most of us agree about what the problems are. we have huge issues of unemployment. we have huge issues of leverage, borrowing on a global level. we have unfunded liabilities like social security and medicare. we have two wars. we have an environment in danger. there are fundamental big problems. some of those are very hard to sort out. some of them, i think any reasonable, intelligent person, a democrat or republican, would agree and the solutions, and yet our leaders appear to be unwilling or unable to look us in the eye and say, this is going to be hard. it is going to be painful.
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we can get through this. let's come back to president obama. i have enormous respect for him. he is a really intelligent man, a decent man. he understands these things. the fact the thus far he has not been able to look us in the in been entirely straight with us tells me that he must have made an assessment, given that his intelligence and his curiosity, he must have made an assessment that there is something in the political process that prevents him from doing that. go back to health care. what i heard as a citizen, forget about my job, what i basically heard from this administration about health care from the beginning was three things. one, we're going to give everybody health care, which sounds like a very good idea. two, you're not going to have to change your health care and all.
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3, we're going to pay less for it. now, any seventh grader would know that you might be able to give us two of those things, but you cannot do all three of those things, and president obama is a smart man and a good men. the fact that he felt it necessary, in order to get legislation through, to put those three things together that none of us could believe, tells me the something is troubling about the political process. we have substantial problems, but i think the way to get through is to say, we will get through it. but there will be campaigns between here and there. going tocurity, we're have to increase aid. we're going to have to means tested. i should not get social security when i am 64, and i am not that far away. we're going to have to do things like that because it is the honest thing to do. it is like we all know the secret but we do not want to admit to ourselves. but in a big, macro sense, it
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seems to me that one of the most basic instincts of mankind is to provide for your children. provide for the next generation. care for the more than you do for yourself. it is the only truly generous thing that i do for my life. even with my wife, there is something selfish and in a lot of times. with my kids, it is different. i worry about society. we seem to be a society where we are not worried about the next generation. i do not know. yet that is true, we have a very big problem. this is leaning towards despair. in fact, i cannot prove this, i
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have a hunch that the american people are better than we sometimes give them credit for. they can take the truth and they can rise to the occasion and deal with that, particularly -- i could be totally wrong. this goes back to getting distracted. michael bloomberg early in his first term -- i do not know what the issue was -- he said i did not get elected to get elected. i got elected to be the mayor of new york. the reason we are given these jobs is to serve a bigger interest than just our own personal self preservation.
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i think this is right. you know this as well as i do. if you look at public opinion polls that are reliable on any controversial issue in society, there are more people toward the middle than there are on the extremes. even on something as controversial as abortion. a lot of people say they do not want to outlaw it altogether, all the other hand, i do not like it much. yet extremes on the two sides. the question. there seems to be a consensus around the middle. that is hope. that is not empirical. that is hope. >> one of the things about the last election seems to have been a reflection on the other things that happen during this decade where there was an enormous power of individuals.
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you have an opportunity. anyone to be a videographer. anyone can be a filmmaker. anyone can use music in ways that were never possible for amateurs before. we see people being able to exercise political power and organize politically in ways that have not been possible before all because of technological change. we saw this tremendous grassroots movement in the 2008 campaign. now we are seeing the tea party movement. much of that has been controversy all to the extent that it is inflaming the passions on the extreme. , but some of that also suggests that having people energized and engaged and and vault is a necessary step to having an honest conversation. >> absolutely.
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i do not claim to be a historian at all, but it's good to the history of the united states, there have been times when there have been raucous debates, even irresponsible in debates. there have been opportunities for people to question whether this is healthy or not. but the country over time -- i hope this will happen again -- people sorted out in the get to the right answers. we'll see what happens. i personally believe what you're seeing right now is a combination of two things. one is simply, i think, a lot of fear in the country -- genuine fear about economic well-being. about their jobs, their houses, their health care, their children's education, things like that. it is not an irrational fear.
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it may be the first time in american history where we are asking ourselves the question of whether it will be better going forward and it has been in the past. we always thought it would get better somehow. now we are starting to question that. the fear gives rise to some extreme positions. people who were afraid to get angry at somebody. the other thing that is sort of a pet peeve of mine -- pet peeve of mine, in the news arena -- it did not start with television news. i think it started largely with talk radio. in television news right now, there is a financial incentive to go to the extremes that we are seeing with fox news and, increasingly, it is a rational decision on their part.
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a strike that opinion gets attention. it does not necessarily a big audience, but this is a devoted audience. they are there for you all the time. one thing people do not understand about fox news is that it is a successful organization. it is a matter of branding and positioning. it is a business proposition. potts news does not reach as many people as cnn. at fox, the people come back again and again. people come to see an end for 50 minutes at a time. -- people come to cnn for 50 minutes at a time. you can reach an audience quickly to get a lot of attention. it is so outrageous and so colorful and is really inexpensive.
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hiring one highly opinionated or -- well-spoken fellow is easier than covering use around the world. [laughter] [applause] ucb to extremes getting a lot of attention. -- you see the extremes getting a lot of attention. our evening news with diane sawyer. on any given night of the week, we get more than twice as many people watching our evening news s watch all five cable news channels at that time put together. that is fox, headline news, msnbc, and cnn. that might come to you as a surprise. there is an audience.
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nbc gets a few more than we do and cbs gets a few less. we are still reaching 25 million americans. there is an appetite. it may not be as vocal. we may not hear as much about it. but there is a much bigger that -- much bigger appetite that we have seen are strong, balanced news in the middle been there or the extremes, but the strains are getting all the attention. >> one thing that is most often heard about mainstream news organizations is that reporters do not stand a chance now because of the pressures they are under from corporate interest and commercial interests. had the manage that? >> first of all, i would say -- we just had this substantial reduction in our forces. it was awful. it was brutal. reporters will say that that is
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because burbank is making us do that. there are forces here that are much bigger than even burbank. it goes beyond corporate interest. it would be one thing if we were just not wanting to make a lot more money. but if you look at the overall trend lines, the wherewithal by which we can raise the money to do the work we are doing is under challenge. the challenge is the cause of the internet and all of the other alternatives. now you are plugged and by 6:00 in the morning when you wake up. it is on your radio. it is on your-own. you give it every which way. it is always been true that all reporting is not created equal. reporting on the score of the
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detroit tigers last night, you can get that in a lot of places. they were in first place yesterday, at least. their only record is terrible. [laughter] but getting that reporting is not terribly valuable. i care what the score is, but i can get that six ways to sunday. we had a brian ross going after toyota. we went after toyota early on and got a lot of flak about it. nobody else was doing that. that is value. that is what we are spending money on. >> you are spending money to do reporting that is, apart from everything else, will cost you a lot of money because it could alienate your advertisers. >> we have a lot of
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stakeholders. we have the shareholders of the walt disney company. ultimately, if we are going to be successful, our main stakeholders is our audience. if we can give our audience something valuable that other people are not giving them, then we will be fine. it will be tough sledding, but we will be fine. the reverse is also true. if we do not give them something that is of value, -- it is a sensible decision as well as the right decision to say, "if we know there is a problem with toyota braking systems, we need to report that even f. there are economic cost -- even if there are economic consequences from toyota. >> we were talking about the end of history. the president was telling people that he was still relevant.
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all of the action had moved sort of off-stage. it was a quiet time. we had two wars and an economic crisis and an environmental crisis -- and then -- and an economic crisis. --so curious about the war's i am curious about the war's end about how you decide who to send it to cover a danger story. particularly the risk and benefits of embedding reporters with the military whose applications we just had another taste of. -- implications we just had another taste of. >> i get all about it often. we have dealt with trade
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treaties and commercial contracts. the u.s. was triumphant. the wars were gone. that was literally when i came in. >> your first big story was a princess dined in a car crash. >> you are right. it was. we had 9/11. we had two wars. it has been quite a piece of history. but in terms of covering wars, personally, there are a lot of issues. what is the right way to cover it? are we taking the other perspectives? are we covering iraqi casualties as well as u.s. casualties? the most searing experience is sending people into harm's way. the first time this came up, i do not remember when it was, but
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there were questions about the embeds in the iraq war. the easy thing to say is that it is strictly voluntary. i am am not saying this, it is really voluntary. there are no consequences for your career. it is easy to say. it is easy to put yourself in the mindset of a junior correspondent. you train them really well. you get them the right equipment. >> how you train them? >> we had former special services to train our people and go with them. we have them in their in afghanistan and iraq.
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we were spending at $1.80 or $90 a year in a rock. -- $8 million or $9 million a year in a rock. we are not first responders. we are reporters. bob woodruff got blown up with his cameraman north of baghdad. we went to a tough time. he should have died, probably. i know bob well. i know his family well. our family says spent time together socially. it struck me when that first phone call early in the morning on sunday morning in january that, because of my decision --
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it was not that it deprived ball so much of his life, that it deprived his wife and kids of bob. what are we doing here? i struggled with this a fair amount. i also concluded that the fact is, providing volunteers are trained and that sort of thing, there are stories worth taking a risk for. it should be a measured risk, -- part of the ethics of leadership is being honest with yourself. that does not guarantee that somebody would get hurt, but they are more likely to get hurt in manhattan then somewhere north of baghdad in iraq. i must employ since the be saying that there are stories --
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implicitly saying that there are stories that are worth covering. they will risk their lives. that is a very difficult conclusion for me to come to in all honesty. i have struggled with this one pretty hard. >> these were, obviously, the way they were covered so obviously different from other ones with reporters being infected with military units. the you think there is a balance of positive or negative? is there a price you pay for having the reporters there? >> it can be worth doing and have a price to pay. my reaction is this -- i think when you're given the opportunity to report and given a vantage point, you almost always want to take advantage point. you have to -- part of getting
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to know and understand the life of our military is part of the story. it is a valuable thing. at the same time, it can start to feel like a john wayne movie or fox news. it is daring and exciting. we have to balance that. the thing i was more worried about with the iraq war, right now in afghanistan you cannot cover without being in the military. it would be irrational and 40 to try to do that. it is very hard to get the perspective from the other side. you are always with a patrol when you are out there. you have to take extraordinary measures. >> i suspect people will have a lot of questions having to do with your news role, but i want
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to go back to the leadership question. if there are qualities that you look for in a leader when you are deciding who to promote or leaders your grooming who might not be the most obvious once. i wonder, for instance, do you think a good man or a good woman can ever be a bad leader? >> oh, sure. i think history is full of good people to ended up being bad leaders because they either cannot see clearly what needed to be done. but could not look evil in the eye and see to it was. -- they could not look evil in the eye and see who it was. laying off 274 people is not a nice thing to do. my mother would not approve of that. you try to do it in a decent,
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honest, respectful way. if you're going to leave an institution -- lead an institution, the institution is the most important of all. we have had some effective leaders, at least for a time. i think of stalin or hitler. they got something accomplished, but they were bad people. i do believe i am looking for a leader, you look for somebody with integrity. it is not sufficient to be a good leader. over the long haul, to be an effective leader, you have a basic sense of integrity. you need to be honest with yourself about assessing the situation and what is possible any need to be honest with the organization to be straight with people. some of the things people do not see -- i am not sure if we talked about this -- it is much
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like parenting. i do not mean that in a condescending way, but a lot of it is a nagging. when you are a leader you think you can say, "let's do this." they do not even hear what you said. you say it's about 10 times and then it sort of rings a bell. you say it 30 times and they say, "yes, it sounds familiar." is a it 50 times and they think it is their idea. -- you say it 50 times and they think it is their idea. when time is not nearly enough. what thing i have observed is the importance of simplicity and clarity. you need to understand the complexity, but then you have to boil it down. it cannot follow too many priorities, too many goals.
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two, maximum of three. when michael ovitz came in to the walt disney co. -- he was a successful agent, but he had not run anything of great size or scope. he would go into meetings with 30 senior executives and say, "i had 17 items on my agenda." you do not have an agenda. that is no priorities at all. you need simplicity and clarity for the ordination to understand. i also think that you need someone to simplify and be very clear for their own sake. it goes back to being too smart sometimes. you can talk yourself into all kinds of things. if you have to boil it down, it
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forces you to say, "do i really mean that?" >> i am watching tom and i am watching my clock. i have the luxury of coming back to you in a week and saying, "what do you really mean by that?" it is only fair to let you ask that question. [applause] >> we are going to do a question and answer session. our ushers will be around to correct those questions in
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writing. here they come. kate and i will do the best we can to represent them. i was thinking, when you were talking about encapsulating the three points that were made about health care and how disappointing that was and how you want leaders to tell the truth -- i was thinking about david brooks. he was referring to the situation in which he believes that one of the good things that is going on in this white house is that there are arguments. there are differences of opinion. he said that what is ironic about that is that they hide that. they have to hide that because if they do not, the story the media covers is the dissent and the disagreement. there is this group mentality
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that goes to the emotional conflict. how much does the media all not for the outcome of the president that cannot tell the truth? >> i think it is just right that the media tends to cover controversy. we like controversy better than an agreement in general. i do not think it is that india is making it up. i think it is because our audience likes conflict. let me personalize it for a second. i do not think that being honest with the american people requires revealing all of the internal decisions and disagreement. i do believe that to have that clear, honest vision, you need to hear descension. i have seen one that has not happened. i am not sure that i need to share with abc news all the conflicting news -- viewpoints.
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i recognize that other people have different points of view. i respect that. i do not think that this is essential to honesty. >> is duplicity not a part of leadership or keeping issues quiet until they are right then? did churchill and wilson do that? >> there is a difference between duplicity and keeping secrets. i do not think that is the same thing at all. in order to be an effective leader if you need to decide when to disclose things. there are no two ways about that. i guess i would have to think about what duplicity means. i do not think, in general, there may be exceptions to this -- i do not think, in general, a leader in these two outright lie.
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it really jeopardize the effectiveness of a leader. if a leader is caught outright lying, his or her leaderships will be substantially undermined. i do not know if people have read "masters and commander's." churchill kept his cards to himself. he was having side deals with roosevelt. roosevelt had a side view of churchill that he did not reveal to marshall. i do not think line is effective in the long run. >> made the classic example that many of us are still reckoning with is what happened to lyndon johnson who was so committed to what he wanted to do with the great society and he believed that if he really explain what
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he was trying to do in vietnam and tried to rally the country behind his vision into the economy on a war footing and all the things people were telling him to do, that there was no way he would be able to further his domestic agenda. he tended to downplay. he built his reputation for duplicity. that tragically albee presidency. >> if lyndon johnson had been totally straight -- going back to the tonkin date, not long after that, they knew it fairly early on what happened in taunton. if they had gone to -- when you look back on linda johnson, may i will think the vietnam war is
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not his only legacy. also, just look at bill clinton -- "i never had sex with that woman." we all remember that. maybe he had made the right decision, but looking back at it from our coverage of debt, i believe the american people within a short period of time understood everything and knew it. we were behind the american public. i came within three weeks, the american people decided he did it, we totally disapprove, we think this is a despicable act, but we still want you to be president because he is a good president. we in the media were saying, "let me tell you one more time." he should have said, "this is all what i did.
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>> nancy, this question is directed to you. what is the future of print journalism? specifically, what is the future of weekly news magazines? [laughter] >> what has been so interesting is that the internal army-and maybe robbery makes it tempting to believe that there are two news magazines. news magazines generally are really strong right now. but it held "the economists"is growing. our renewals are up. there is more demand in this particular news environment where people are so overwhelmed with information that they cannot possibly process. the idea of someone who will
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help cure rate at intermission becomes that much more valuable. -- curate that information becomes that much more valuable. i love the competition from "newsweek." i regretted when it was announced that they were going to stop being a news magazine and become a thought leader. i like reading sports commentary as much as anyone, but there is a lot of that out there. i much prefer for them to stay in the game. how are they going to solve the problem but telling the story this week? we were all wrestling with that. i am optimistic that if we do not lose sight of our core
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values, if we do not take the cheap way out -- david said that it is expensive for us to have a bureau in baghdad. it is expensive to have a news gathering force around the world. there is much more than sitting in our arm chairs are writing about what we think. but i think news organizations do that. many newspapers have been forced to, in the course of their cost- cutting. that troubles me as a citizen. every newspaper that died, i feel grief for that. i would rather have more of us out there trying to get the story. try to find out what really happened in the gulf. what does bp really know? that takes real resources. you cannot get that from sitting at home and watching tv and then waiting in about what your point of view is. >> david, would you comment,
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please, on how the white house past and present treats the media from an ethical point of view? >> i guess i dealt with the clinton white house, bush, and obama. the most important thing i did it in the white house -- it is like an arms race and they are ahead of us. it is becoming increasingly so. i thought this was true with clinton. i thought it was more true with bush and 43. they really control what goes out very effectively. they have eight very powerful sense of how things play in the media and they try to spin feed
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us. the most important thing is the ability to get at what is going on and get a true read on it. i cannot say that they have an outright bid less -- misled us. >> this is a particularly disciplines administration. we all loved covering the clinton white house. it leaked like a sieve. that was great. everyone with an ax to grind it would grind it in front of you. the bush white house was much more of a true believer where they were less likely to leak in real time. a lot of them raised their books
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and that is only discovered stuff. this white house, too, has been challenging. every white house has its favorite reporters, its favorite news outlets. david brooks is a favorite of this white house. he is a reasonable man to them. if you believe, as i do, that this white house is a genuine commitment to persuasion, to winning over their reasonable adversaries -- it is the fun of the game to them to make a better argument. in a way they are the perfect embodiment of the reasonable man that disagrees about the core principles, but can be persuaded to make a better argument. one of the reasons david is so interesting to read is that you
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watch them wrestling with the intercession of his core principles with the more activist agenda of this white house and all of the fundamental issues of government, the dangers of the lack of humility, all these issues. the white house often picks both its brands and its enemies. it can be in the interest of the white house to have a news organization at to get it. has always been a complicated dance. the change in technology and the ability to get their message al has made it that much harder for us to navigate. >> the thing that concerns us about our coverage in washington, it has become so stylized overtime. whether it is the senate judiciary meeting on the supreme
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court justice -- he spent all of your time over here when over here is where it is all going on. it is a kabuki dance. senators are asking questions that make little sense or giving speeches. nominees are giving answers they knew they need to give. the president's briefing has gotten to be so artful. it does not conveying a much substance. >> this question is about a print media phenomenon. how does any news room deal with a shakespearean moment like the self emulation of general mcchrystal? the person ask for a comment on the issue of integrity regarding the reporting and the decision to print the article in rolling
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stone of the interview with general mcchrystal. >> i always wonder why anyone talks to reporters. [laughter] and why anyone who is a general running a war talks to a reporter or less a reporter in the room from a "rolling stone." [applause] there has been some soul- searching. somehow there was a violation of rules here. that was the charge. some health michael hastings somehow crossed the line in the way he does his role. this does not seem to be one of those. the question is whether -- what deferred in that story being
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said by the aid to the general was fundamentally different than what it says. military leaders have always had complex with their civilian control. was this really news or was this news only because, for once, we were able to listen in on that conversation? that has been a very tricky one. there was a lapse of judgment. a volcano eruption kept them stock in paris. they spent more time together. >> some of that involve alcohol. >> that is never good for your discretion. but i do not think that that case was necessarily one of journalistic ethics. it was not a massive print or
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broadcast issue. >> i agree with all of that. i would find it remarkable of -- for any better of any newspaper or magazine -- provided that the rules were followed correctly, anyone who says they would not have printed that, i am very skeptical. >> it is different and it is a new problem. all of us started hearing about this very explosive interview in which all of these bad things were said about president obama. but the interview was not available on line. we got in trouble -- time magazine got in trouble because we posted the interview on our website. if you do not see the whole article and do not know the context of the quotes, a very major thing happened where a
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president recalled a general from the frontline of the war we are fighting and fired him on the basis of things that were said in an article. i think most people coming away from washington thinks that most of the things that were said came out of general mcchrystal's mouth. they did not. they came out of the mouth of his aides and associates. if you did not read the entire article, you would not know who really said what. make your own judgment about how it reaches a lack of protocol. we were stealing their content. >> i did not follow as closely. you had the file because of public relations for rolling stone. is that how you got it? how did you get this interview? >> that is a good question. [applause] >> if released all is try to get
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as much attention as possible, but you cannot use it, that is a real problem. >> the minute it became available on the website, everybody to get off. there is a time when an article is so important in which a general is about to be fired based on an article, is it not important that as many people as possible read this article and judge for themselves? [applause] these are things we are all wrestling with because figuring out what happens on line and have you modify that is a central challenge for all of our institutions. we face these dilemmas a day after day. >> this question has to do with your explanation of why mainstream media it seems to rely on pulling and the challenge of getting an accurate
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measure of public understanding? the follow up is that economic factors have obviously reduced the number of reporters in the field. that is a statement. it may not be true. if it is true and we are relying on fewer sources, what are the ethical implications of that? >> when i first came to abc news i ask the same question. we get three or four statisticians working for us. now we do our own polling. now our polls are created equal. there are some polls that are not air-worthy. i asked the same questions. how cannot rely on this snapshot? i am not a statistician. i am not a social scientist. i do not understand it. there are some polls that can
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be good. you have some that seem to be fairly stable over time. there are some polls -- there were a lot of bad projections in the new hampshire primary. some of it was up to the last minute. it was not responsible pulling. -- it was not responsible polling. we did not really have reporters if you kill people in the field as reporters. we had people who convert the materials into digital -- into digital substance. we have people -- we have trimmed down. obviously we need to look very
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long and hard at the number of sources we can identify. i do think, for us at least, that we take a look at every individual story and decide if this is something that everybody is going to have. if that is what you are doing, then you do that as cheaply and efficiently as possible. you can rely on other people you have relationships with. is this something we have that nobody else can happen? the new control all of your sources. you devote some sources that have become a commodity. that is the future for us. >> this question is for each of you. if you could identify 3 individuals, either in journalism or politics, that you think is a model of a leader, who would they be? >> was the people we have on the
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landscape is nancy pelosi. she is arguably the most powerful speaker we've seen since sam rayburn. when you talk to members of congress about how she functions and how they love or hate her and what she has done, we have seen an extraordinary legislative achievement under her leadership. i think it is interesting when you have a leadership style that is somewhat different than the predecessors. i also think it is interesting that in 1974 that cbs news one at the 56 correspondence was a woman. you just put into your most visible leadership role the first woman to have that.
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>> christinanne amanpour. >> yet katie couric and diane sawyer. but the things that is interesting right now is the emergence of leadership -- the emergence of women in leadership roles. whether that will stir things up our hapless think about leadership differently -- help us think about leadership differently, ginger matters much less than personality, talent, and instinct. it is intriguing that we are in this moment where we are having an active conversation, particularly because i think it is a financial crisis. we had a lot of fun this spring
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putting on the cover of our magazine, "the new share of of wall street." they talk to us explicitly about how none of them was ever a part of the form. none of them were ever part of the boys' club. there have been things written about if at lehman brothers would have been a lean and sisters, when everything have turned out -- if lehman brothers would have been lehman sisters, with everything have turned out the same way. does that not give us a bigger
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talent pool? is that a promise for the future? [applause] >> i will give you three people. we did a mission in iceland. iceland just fell off the map financially. they had a man running the major banks and their place them all with women. one of the points is, i think it is very hard to identify great leaders except in raised -- except in retrospect. you do not know where you are most of the time. if you're paying too much attention to where people are telling you where you are, you'll get off balance pretty easily. in the journalism area, journalists from the pentagon papers. that is the time they're going public. it took enormous courage for them to do that.
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of course, with watergate and what they did there. politically, harry truman and the marshall plan. if you think about it, the united states was threatened by the fascist powers of japan and germany and to some extent italy. harry truman said, "let's devote trillions of dollars into rebuilding our economy." he put marshal's name on it because he was a war hero. can you imagine a political leader in having the courage to say that this is what we need to do? turn around to our enemies -- if you look back in history, it
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rejuvenated all of the global economy. >> ladies and gentlemen, nancy gibson and david westin. >> former senator sam nunn who has a keen interest in nuclear weapons discusses the current environment. he speaks from prepared remarks and then takes questions from a moderator. this is about 1:10. >> we are looking forward to coming back next year and bringing a seven-year old and a five-year old, our grandchildren, and so we loved it. [applause] it is a blessing in america these days to be able to have younger people all over running around with no apparent parental supervision absolutely safe. [laughter] i learned yesterday that this wonderful institution was
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founded by methodists or sunday school teachers. we noted the tremendous emphasis that this institution has in reaching out to all religions and promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding. nothing is more important in the world today. i am reminded of the baptist observer appointed to attend a methodist week long attention -- convention as a guest. at the concluding assembly, the methodist bishops called on the observer for any remarks he may have. the baptists said, "yost -- i have been treated well all week and not feel that i am probably among christians." [laughter] but i do have one question, all week long i have heard john wesley this and john wesley
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that. i want to know who the heck is john wesley? and operate met this stood up in the back and said, "read your bible, man, read your bible." [laughter] we hoped the nine methodists have read the bible. we are thrilled to be here in chicago. i am a privilege to kick off this week's of discussion on both nuclear challenges and nuclear opportunities. i am particularly honored to be a part of a series named after senator george bell -- charles goddell. i am pleased that his wife is here this morning. i had a delightful visit with them last night. i am honored that they are representing their outstanding family.
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i dismissed by one year serving in the united states senate with them. gillette about a year before may. coincidently, i dismissed by approximately 18 months practicing in a law firm with his son. i am delighted to get to know their family. i confess that i am apprehensive about this audience and your history of outstanding speakers and programs. senatorial speeches in new york have the rich, but sometimes colorful and even dubious history. [laughter] i am reminded of the end of that many years ago when the senator from new york was introducing the president of the united states, william howard taft, in new york city. president taft was a very large man. he weighed about 315 pounds and
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he had a protruding stomach. the senators introductory remarks were considerably overdone and very lengthy. finally, he beckoned president taft to the program -- to the podium. the president ought to the podium. he said, "our president is pregnant with integrity." the audience laughed. then he said, "our president is pregnant with carriage." the audience laughed again. >> violate president taft reached the podium. >> let me inform you ladies and gentleman that if it is a girl, we will call him integrity. if it is a boy, we will call him courage. if this is simply gas, call it chancey depew."
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[laughter] [applause] so, it is, i should say, an anxious honor to be here. i am relieved by the generous introduction. my former law partner to los to top -- who loves to camp here in the summer, he sent me a message saying, "you are privileged to be a part of chicago. you address a large, sophisticated, and very influential audience. do not worry about feeling nervous and apprehensive. that is a perfectly sensible reaction." [laughter] "either make a forgettable speech or a good speech. do not make one that is bad or
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memorable." mark russell said he was only going to give me one piece of advice. he said, "sam, if you consider the demographics of the audience, do not confuse a call of nature with a standing ovation." [laughter] despite this dubious encouragement i have received from all corners, which is not the toughest audience i have never had to address. after serving for many years in the house and senate, senator goddell would probably identify with me. after being elected to the senate in 1973, i recall touching my colleague -- i found
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him one afternoon on the floor of the senate. i spent weekend after weekend to come in and try to formulate replies. i took advantage of senator tallmadge. he had a spittoon under his desk. he was using it frequently. i said, "senator tallmadge, i need your advice. i am getting a lot of nut mail. people are asking me about flying saucers and conspiracies. there's no answering this kind of mail. i am do not know what to do. it is coming from every direction. do i need to answer all of this e-mail? -- do i need to answer all of this mail?" he replied, "answer every piece of a nut mail.
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if you do not carry the not the vote, you not carry any county in georgiou." [laughter] of course, constituents have their own view of politicians. this goes back for many decades. will rogers once said, "politicians are like diapers. you need to change them often and for the same reason." this is not a segue to our serious discussion this morning on nuclear challenges, so let me turn to that subject. three years ago george schaller, henry kissinger, and i published an op ed calling for a -- ultimately ended them as a threat to the world.

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American Perspectives
CSPAN September 4, 2010 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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